Last Embrace (1979)

“I’m afraid of what’ll happen if I stay.”

While recovering from his wife’s accidental death, CIA agent Harry Hannan (Roy Scheider) believes someone is out to eliminate him. He receives mysterious notes in Aramaic, is trailed by his brother-in-law (Charles Napier), and befriends a mousy young woman (Janet Margolin) whose grandmother worked in a Jewish brothel run by Hannan’s ancestors.


Response to Peary’s Review:
As Peary notes, this Jonathan Demme thriller is a “shaky contribution” to the ever-growing list of “suspense films in the Hitchcock mold.” With that said, The Last Embrace is interesting and enjoyable on its own merits: it possesses a unique premise, some rather intriguing plot devices, a “Herrmann-esque” score by Miklos Rosza, and unusual characters — particularly Janet Margolin as Ellie, a “smart but neurotic college student” whose sweet nature belies any number of possible alter egos.

Redeeming Qualities:

  • Janet Margolin as Hannan’s unanticipated roommate
  • Charles Napier as Scheider’s dead wife’s brother

Must See?
No. This is a fun thriller, but not essential viewing.


One Response to “Last Embrace (1979)”

  1. First viewing. Not a must.

    Forgotten Demme flick…in some ways, justifiably so – since this one is ultimately ludicrous. Demme is a very talented filmmaker but he has never been much good when called on to helm a project clearly beneath his talents as an artist.

    This Hitch homage is not as misguided as Demme’s unfortunate ‘Charade’ re-tread – ‘The Truth About Charlie’. ‘LE’ at least has a semi-intriguing hook midway. Alas, however, the film hinges on a rather tragic reality (all-too-common at a certain time, probably) which is merely exploited for commercial-audience effect.

    The acting is of the standard, sub-par thriller variety. Margolin – often an engaging presence – doesn’t have the chops for what’s expected of her (but even a more accomplished actress would have a tough time here). Christopher Walken appears, teasingly, in a small role – and it’s sad when he doesn’t return. Ah, well.

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